Saturday, October 15, 2005

Today is a bleak day. It doesn't matter that the sun is shining. To most it is just another beautiful fall day. But not for me. Today is and always will be the day I lost my mother. Nine years ago today my mom died. Nine years! On the one hand, it seems like forever since I last talked to or saw my mom. At the same time, it seems like just yesterday that she died. It's so strange to me that sometimes I can't picture my mom's face in my head or I can hardly remember the sound of her voice, but the details of October 15th, 1996 are forever ingrained in my memory. I saw my mom the night before she died. She had been moved from the rehabilitation center in Garden Grove to a hospital near my Mom and Dad's house three days prior. I got off work at 2:00 and drove to visit her. I tried to do this 3-4 times a week during the time she was in the hospital. (I didn't always succed) She was in intensive care(cardiac unit), so I had to wait to see her. They let me in to see her after about five minutes. They had her laying on her side in hope that it would help her bed sores. We watched The Rosie O'Donell show together. We had done this before many times, as it was always on at the time I came to visit. She didn't talk too much. I tried to keep up the conversation, babbling on about my life or what guests were on Rosie's show. She would nod or smile to let me know she was listening. At about 3:45 a male nurse came in to her "room" (more of a cubicle really) and told me he would be taking her to get some X-rays, but that I was welcome to wait in the hall. She told me I should go home but I told her No, I'll wait for you to get back. It was a small hospital, and the waiting room for the CCU consisted of 3 chairs out in the hallway. A man was sitting in one of the chairs, so I took the chair farthest from him. There was one empty chair between us. I don't know what his story was, but he must have either received bad news or lost a loved one, because he was weeping quietly with one hand covering his face. I felt very uncomfortable. I didn't have a magazine or anything to read, so I mostly stared at the floor, counting tiles to avoid looking at him. He seemed oblivious to my presence. The Cardiac Care Unit was located at the end of the hall. The emergency room was across from it, but down farther on the right. The entrance for the ambulances was at the end of the hall where I had come in. The E.R was a loud, bustling place with a lot of people going in and out. It gave me something to focus on besides the gentleman crying beside me. I remember feeling very sad. Sad that my mom was here, sad for the man sitting next to me, sad for the mother with tears streaming down her face that had come running down the hall to see her husband and child that had been in a car accident. I felt guilty because the X-rays were taking longer than I had expected, and I was dreading the traffic I was going to have to face if it got any later. After what seemed like an eternity but really was about 45 minutes I saw my mom being wheeled down the hall towards me. I stood up to greet them. The nurse explained to me that my mom had to be situated in her room and then it was dinner time, so maybe I wanted to come back tomorrow. I told him No, I will wait. My Mom insisted that I NOT wait. She told me I should go home. So I did. I kissed her goodbye and promised to come see her tomorrow, since this visit was cut so short. I watched them wheel her back into the CCU. I waved and then turned and went out to my car. When I got to my car I was so overcome with emotion that I put my head on the steering wheel and cried. I didn't even know why I was crying, except that I just wanted my mom to get better. I don't remember any details about the rest of the evening. I can't remember what we had for dinner or what shows we watched on T.V. The next morning I got up at my normal time, 5:30 and got ready for work. I went to work as usual. It was a pretty normal day until around 7:30. I had opened the front door and was just letting the upper graders walk over to their lines when I saw a black truck pull into the school driveway. I did a double take because it looked like Joe's truck. No, I decided, it couldn't be. He would still be at home getting ready for work at this time. The truck pulled up and parked right next to our building. There was no mistaking now that it was Joe. I was puzzled. I couldn't go out to meet him since I still had kids in the room, so I waited at the door for him. As soon as he got out of the car and turned towards me, I knew. It was something about the look on his face. I have never seen him look so pained. As he started walking up the ramp I began crying and shaking my head No, No, No. I don't think he actually ever said the words to me. "Your Mom died". He didn't have to. I just knew. I had to get out of there. I called my boss at home and told her I had to go home, that my mom had died. I remember distinctly what she said. "Can you give me a half hour? I just got out of the shower." I hung up on her. I was seriously considering leaving the children I had alone! I had to get out of there! Luckily another employee that worked there had come in to pick up her paycheck just then. I was sobbing. I told her "I have to leave. My mom died." I remember she hugged me and would not let go! I just wanted her to let me go so I could get out of there, but she wouldn't! Finally Joe stepped in and said we should be going. Everything else is a blur. The entire week is a blur. The memorial service is a blur. The whole first year after she died is a blur. But I will never forget THAT day. It is true what they say about time healing all things. Every year that has passed since my mom died has gotten easier and the pain has faded a little bit. That doesn't mean I don't miss her. I will always miss her. There will always be a sad place in my heart for her. It comes to the suface on birthdays, at Christmas, on Mother's Day, and especially on this day. It will never completely go away. Yes, October 15th is a bleak day. But it is a good day too. Because it is the day I remember my mom and all the good times we had. I miss you Mom and I love you!

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